Radiotherapy is a major therapeutic strategy for breast cancer, while cancer radioresistance remains an obstacle for the successful control of the tumor. Novel radiosensitizing targets are to be developed to overcome radioresistance. Recently, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were proved to play critical roles in cancer progression. Among all, lncRNA HOTAIR was found to participate in cancer metastasis and chemoresistance. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the radiosensitizing effects of targeting HOTAIR and the underlying mechanism. Our data showed that HOTAIR (HOX antisense intergenic RNA) was up-regulated in breast cancer cells and tissues, and the expression of HOTAIR increased following irradiation. Knockdown of HOTAIR inhibited cell survival and increased cell apoptosis in response to ionizing radiation. Moreover, compared with control group, radiation induced more DNA damage and cell cycle arrest in HOTAIR knockdown cells. Finally, we found that the radiosentizing effects of HOTAIR were related to the up-regulation of miR-218, a ceRNA of HOTAIR. In conclusion, our finding showed that HOTAIR inhibition sensitizes breast cancer cells to ionizing radiation, induced severe DNA damage and activated apoptosis pathways, suggesting a possible role of HOTAIR as a novel target for breast cancer radiosensitization.